Terii’s Cycling Babble

Better Luck This Time! I Hope!
June 25, 2020, 2:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last year, at the end of the first week in August, I hatched a daring plan. Starting the count on my birthday of 2019 and ending on the day before my next birthday of 2020, I was going to ride 5100 km. I called it, unimaginatively, The Birthday Challenge. Between those 2 dates, I was going to attempt riding 100 km for every year I’d have been on this planet as of my birthday in 2020.

I was excited and nervous as I launched into action on August 14th. I was going to need over 60 miles a week. For years, 90% of my rides had been less than 10 miles and a struggle at that, but I was going to try.

It was hard on me. My body felt exhausted after just the first few days as I struggled to keep the frequency of rides necessary, but I thought I was actually starting to get stronger after the few days of rest I could squeeze out. I made it a month and a bit more. Squeaking out just enough distance the goal was still possible.

There were still challenges, mostly weather related ahead. Bitter cold was still my enemy and winter was coming with it being a crap shoot of would we have a mild, wet, Mississippi like winter? Or would this be a winter from a decade back when we had hip deep snow for 5 months and temps in the teens?

In the end, it wasn’t my body or the weather that brought the challenge to a halt. It was Loke. The poor old man was too frail and unstable to come with me on most days. To make the challenge, I was having to leave him for 2-3 hours. It was hard for him to accept that. After all, for 99% of his 14 years, we’d been in each other’s company 24/7. Only if I add in his hospital visits, and mine, would I run out of fingers counting the number of times we’d been apart for more than a few hours to do errands or see movies. There was that brief time when I was working at the American Food store too, but that was just a few days a week and he had grandma and grandpa to spoil him while I did that.

As he aged, he was more clingy and started to get destructive when I did leave to get my miles. I couldn’t do that to my old partner in crime. I let it go to do what was best for Loke. He needed me and I lovingly accepted that in the winter of his life.

Well, he’s gone now. Also, I seem strangely stronger and faster on some days than I was even after the month of frantic riding last year. More stamina too.

Even so, I still believe the Birthday Challenge will be a challenge. One person in one of my recumbent groups was like, “Oh you can do that easy. That’s barely over 3200 miles in a year. That’s a snap. I have over 3900 miles this year already.”

What the hell? Measuring what everyone can do because something is easy for you is the stupidest thing in the world. My best ever distance in a year is 1300 miles and it about killed me in the end to break it. So, yeah, more than doubling my best ever for this endeavor IS a challenge for me and it won’t be easy.

Goodness. I get snippy rather easily, don’t I? I just get so fed up with people belittling successes, both my own and that of others, because it’s not even breaking a sweat for them. I do my best to cheer on anyone’s accomplishments, especially those people who post about, “I just got my first trike 2 weeks ago, and today was my first ride over 5 miles.”

I don’t hit them with, “Oh PUH-LEZ. My first ever ride on my first trike was over 7 miles. You should have been able to do that much at least on your first ride.”

I don’t know what life has dealt them or why getting to the point they could do those 5 miles is an accomplishment. Heart attack? Stroke? Bad long term choices in matters of diet and exercise, but they’re finally choosing to address their health in positive fashion? Doesn’t matter. I congratulate them about how awesome it is. Encourage them to keep at it as long as they love it.

Why is that so hard for so many people? Why does it have to be sneering, scoffing, and belittling? It’s that kinda crap and worse that has the world in such a crappy state beyond the whole pandemic.

But I’ve gone WAY off topic with that.

So, Birthday Challenge.

As one might have guessed by now, I’m gonna tackle it again. Obviously, it’s gong to be 5200 km rather than 5100 km. Even though I count my rides in miles even after 15 years in Sweden, I have a hard time letting go of my miles. Counting distance in km makes it seem so small to me even if the number is ‘bigger’. It’s just the way my brain works.

But 5200 miles would be almost quadrupling my best ever distance in 14 years of riding. I figure that’s gonna be hard enough more than doubling it.

To give some perspective. At 5200 km in a year, I’ll need to ride a bit more than 68 miles in a week. I will admit, that might be easier than I think given I’ve had several rides this year (June 5th’s 30.45 miles as prime example) where I practically flew and distance easy. I didn’t even feel that great after riding most every day for a month when I attempted the challenge last year. That was after going to the gym 2-4 times a week for over a year and a half.

I don’t know what’s changed, but I do love it and it might make the challenge easier.

Who knows. As I work at it, maybe next year I’ll be able to aim for a 5300 mile birthday challenge.

Right, perspective. Really shouldn’t go off on random babbles like that.

If I were to attempt miles, which would almost double more than doubling my best ever year, I would need a minimum of 108.5 miles a week. 434 miles a month.

My best ever mileage in a week was back in 2008 when for a few summer weeks I managed over 200 miles. That was my first official ‘best year ever’ for distance with something like 1230 miles. Clearly the 200+ miles a week didn’t hold for long, but I did it. I was younger, and yes, lighter, hadn’t had a stroke. Still, maybe I have it in me to accomplish such again.

I can tell you, it won’t be any time in the next few months.

Between now and my birthday, I’m going to be work on strengthening myself. Not just for riding, but reclaiming the upper body strength I’ve lost since February. That way, I’ll be able to put the bike rack on the car myself. That thing is just heavy enough that its awkward shape makes it extremely difficult to manage right now. Once I can do that though, being able to load everything without kicking Jens out of bed at horrible hours, I can at least go other places for fascinating rides which will help me with those miles.

Speaking of ‘reclaiming upper body strength’, it’s time for me to scurry off to the gym with a ton of sanitizer and get to it!

Mid-Summer and Little Frustrations
June 22, 2020, 8:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, the saddest day of the year has come and gone. Mid-Summer. From here, the days are in decline until the winter solstice. Ah well.

Such grand plans I had for the year. The pandemic threw a gargantuan monkey wrench in that idea. I mean one of those wrenches that are bigger than man.

Mid-Summer was celebrated on June 19th. I stayed in since, firstly, I don’t like to hit the roads on days when people are in a high celebratory mood which means drinking. It’s not as excessive as a non-pandemic Valborg, but Mid-Summer probably ranks as the 2nd most drinking holiday in Sweden.

That wasn’t the only reason I didn’t ride. I could have loaded the trike and headed off to the rail-trail around Eskilstuna for a 24 mile out-n-back which is 99.9% traffic free. The only time to potentially interact with cars on that ride is when I cross roads.

Alas, it was hot. I mean, up over 90 F hot. Even with a new found heat resistance of late, I find myself reluctant to push it past low to mid-80’s F. Even that borders on unpleasant, though at least there’s no sense of being an egg in a microwave. As a Baked Alaska though, the closer to 85 F it gets, the mushier the ice cream center becomes as it loses its chill.

Saturday was slated to be just as bad. So, I actually pushed myself out the door for a ride at 4 am. Best laid plans and all that. For one of the first times ever, there was NO legal parking any where near the storage. It was either illegal or pay. I thought about parking at the grocery and paying, but that was a quarter mile walk. If I was gonna walk that far, it might as well be the additional quarter mile from home.

The thing was, upon waking, my back was just KILLING me. My attempt to walk resulted in my back tell me off and making it clear there was no way I’d be making it to the garage.

At home, I sulked some. Then at about 5:17 am, Jens came blinking blearily out of the bedroom. Seeing me clad in cycle clothes, he asked if I’d gone for a ride. I admitted, I hadn’t and why. “I’ll drive you,” he said. He could have gone back to bed, but no. He stayed up, silly early on a Saturday, to drive me to the garage.

The ride wound up being just around the River Loop, though I did add extra.

Honestly, it felt like a complete waste. I felt as fast and strong as I had on the June 5th ride from the storage to Salsta Manor. Such power, stamina, and speed would have been better spent on a ‘proper’ long ride as I’d been doing. Just the cursed HEAT.

I had also meant to add the Burial Ground Loop for extra distance. That wound up ruined by the sheer number of people that just swarmed the paths as it came up past 6:15 am. Seriously?! It was the Saturday of a long weekend, following a Friday holiday and there were almost as many people on the paths that early as I would expect on a normal Monday or something. Silly me, thinking people might be enjoying a lying in to sleep off their excess of the previous day’s celebrations.

The Grave Mound paths would only be even worse. So, I finished up with 7.10 miles. And, for me, it was fast.

For speed data, Garmin Connect has 2 fields. One is average speed, which is pretty much what it sounds like. The average speed for the duration of the ride measurements. On adventure rides, that tends to wind up rather low because of photographs, hunting for runestones, flying the drone, etc.

Then, there’s Average Moving Speed. That one only takes into account the actually times I was moving. It omits the time I was stopped for whatever reason.

Well, for this ride, I only stopped twice. Quick photos for face book once and then to put the chain back on when it jumped off the chainring when I was turning the trike around at the end of the out-n-back. Even with those pauses, my average speed was 6.8 mph. Pretty damn good for me. However, my Average Moving Speed, completely blew my mind.

7.5 mph. I honestly can’t tell you when I was that fast last. It just boggles me that I have it in me even if it’s not every single ride.

There hasn’t been more rides for whatever reasons. Laundry and the like. Not to mention, still been so BLEEDING HOT. I’ve just not been able to get out for an early morning scurry.

I tried it this morning at 4 am, but it was the same issue as my first attempt on June 20th. My back was killing me when I woke and there was, again, no legal/free parking to be had in a quarter mile radius.

I need exercise. Then it struck that my arms have been giving me fits of late. Numbness, random pain. That could also mean that they might start trying to slip out of joints again.

I need the gym. I decided that, enough of this crap, avoiding everything to the point my upper body is breaking down. I went home, changed to a workout shirt, grabbed my gym bag and a bottle of hand sanitizer, hustled out the door to the gym.

I was wary first walking in. Though I hated to use so much of the sanitizer, I was putting it on my hands and then wiping down whatever was going to be used. The rowing machine. The kettlebells. Then I saw the woman I’ve been most friendly with at the gym had arrived. I wandered over for a chat.

Since I’d not seen her since February, we had a bit to catch up on. I was stunned when I actually broke down in tears, telling her about Loke’s passing. I didn’t expect that to be so painful since I told someone else with barely a thickened voice.

Turns out, her fiance actually caught the virus. He’s ‘over’ it now. Has the antibodies. The only symptom he had was losing his senses of taste and smell. They haven’t come back. Doctors can’t even tell him if or when it might return. So, someone I’ve met has actually caught it.

The workout actually went pretty good. I was kick butt on the rowing machine, which was a shock. Maybe my cycling has helped with that. My arms were worse. Big surprise, right? The machine for my back was actually not too bad. I managed 3 sets on 70 lbs just fine. My abdomen was a bit worse.

My inner thighs were the biggest shock. It seems they’ve practically turned to pudding. I could barely manage 1 set on half the weight I was doing in the first half of February before the cold, the broken rib, and the arrival of the pandemic.

But everyone was actually really good. No one ever came within 3 meters of any one else. There were spray bottles of disinfectant all over the place and hand sanitizer, so I didn’t even have to use mine. People seemed to be pretty good about wiping things off when they were finished.

That didn’t stop me from spraying whatever machine or piece of equipment I was going to use within an inch of its existence, wiping it down with a cloth that quickly became damp with disinfectant. Then I’d wait 35 seconds (my interval timer) before touching it again. Then I’d repeat the wipe down when I was done.

I don’t like the gym, but the idea of getting my arms and back to what they were in February has me almost enthusiastic about my return to the gym. Oddly, paranoid me has returned to my gym before Jens has so much as thought about going back to his.

So, that’s where things are currently. Slowly roasting through the days, but going to do what I can to get fitter, stronger (all over) and, hopefully, faster still.

That Time Again
June 14, 2020, 4:43 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Yep! The weekend long ride.

I did actually get out and do a short ride during the week though. June 8th or 9th. I forget which. I had laundry to do, so it was just a quick buzz around the Grave Mound loop for a bit less than 4.5 miles. The power and stamina that had me blasting through the ride on June 5th was still with me. I wowed myself by doing the distance in 38-ish minutes. Give or take 30 seconds. Completely shocked.

I didn’t get out for rides the rest of the week. Jens’ birthday was during the week and we went out to eat. I refused to eat grilled portabello mushrooms with grilled or steamed veggies, so instead, I had meat. That pretty much wrecked me for some days, so, no riding.

It’s hard eating out as a vegan. Restaurants refuse to get creative. It’s always mushroom served up as a pathetic meat substitute and a side of ‘nothing special done to them’ green veggies like grilled/steamed broccoli and maybe some green beans.

If I eat at home, I can have a tasty plate of nachos with homemade vegan sour cream and queso sauce or pasta with a yummy alfredo sauce. Using the homemade vegan cheese and sour creams, I can make a kick-butt twice baked potato that makes me roll my eyes with delight. Me, the hard-core, unapologetic carnivore, loving a vegan twice baked potato.

Oddly, I am almost a better cook as a vegan than I was as an omnivore.

Sorry for the off topic ramble, but it did impact my riding, so worth going on about as this is my ride diary.

Jens had been pestering me a bit about where I was going to ride this weekend. Nothing particularly called though. Friday, June 12th, I told him that I’d figure out Saturday’s ride when I woke up.

It didn’t really go so well. There was the thought that Jens drop me off at a little medieval church in Vattholma so I could ‘collect’ it and from there, I would have headed north, back past Tensta and chase churches and manors. I think the reason that idea fizzled is because I’ve ridden the area north from Tensta before and it was a brutal ride. I remember being hot, and a lot of traffic and accompanying fumes, exhausted, frustrated.

I looked in a few other places, but still not much called. Jens woke up and asked what I’d decided and threw a few ideas out, so I dragged my oddly reluctant self back onto the computer to look.

Up around a small village named Österbybruk, which was the site of old iron production, my eyes were pulled a bit northward to an even smaller blip on the map called Film. There’s a church there that I’ve meant to ride to a couple times, but the rides always fell a bit short. I’ve ridden the area south of Österbybruk two or 3 times and really wanted something fresher to sink my teeth into. Eyes wandering the map, the name Hökhuvud caught them.

In that little blip on the map, bigger than Film, smaller than Österbybruk, was a church of course. I have wanted to add that church to my collection for years. Ever since we passed when driving to Sing Island on Sweden’s east coast for Jens to fish for sea bass. Alas, it sat on a busy road and I had never managed to find a way to it from some place else and never found a way from it to other regions without, dealing with that busy road.

Well, looking from Film I spotted a way. Also, since June 5th’s ride being so spectacular, I looked further afield and found another church in a town to the south of Hökhuvud (Hawk Head for non-Swedish speakers), as well as what appeared to be a lovely length of road that ran further south. A small country lane, uninterrupted for quite some distance. It actually made me giggle.

So, it was decided. All batteries charged, stuff packed into my various bags and off we went.

I was so looking forward to getting the drone up at Film Church. Everything trike related out of the car, I sent Jens on his way and started to load up. While putting the last bits in place, a woman in her 70’s or so, came up. She was walking her bike along and paced up and down beside the church wall.

So, couldn’t launch the drone right then. I took my camera and went walking around the church in search of runestones as she finally headed off down a path that seemed to parallel the nearby lake. Perhaps by time I finished, she’d be far enough gone I could finally get aerial photographs.

Film Church

Nope. As I came back to the trike, she came back up from the path. So, I went into the bathroom to apply sunscreen on face and neck, but where I could wash it off my hands, hopefully keeping it off camera lenses. I hoped, beyond hope when I emerged, THEN I could do the drone.

Nope. I came out to the biking woman still there, along with an old man heading into the churchyard to visit/tend a grave. When yet still others arrived, I gave it up as a lost cause.

Loved the building and old farm equipment.

Pretty much the moment I rolled out, I felt the loss of the insane pep I’d had on my last long ride. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel as if I had the power to fly along and go all day. Not to mention, there was an ever-so-slight grumble of discomfort in one knee. That convinced me to take it even easier. It would have been silly to strive for the same performance I had on the 5th and wind up wrecking myself.

Disappointing. It made it unlike I’d be able to challenge my 30+ mile record.

It was a warm day even as I left Film Church at a bit after 10 am. On the way to Film, there had been faint smudges of high, thin clouds on the western horizon. Once I was rolling along though, they seemed to have vanished. Pity. They would have been welcome for the effect of lessening the sun’s impact.

Ah! Summer Scenery!

There was wind though. At times it lashed the trees at 15 mph or more and pulled at my Da Brim. Even if a hindrance to forward motion on the trike while moving south or east, the very directions I needed no less, it did mitigate the heat somewhat.

So, wind and higher temps, yet it wasn’t unpleasant. I pedalled along at a pace that didn’t aggravate my knee and whipped my head around, trying to see everything at once.

The road was paved, but still narrow. One of those country lanes that criss-crosses Sweden where it might be considered a lane and a half. Two cars have enough room to pass each other… just.

A different sort of road marker

I spend a lot of time on those kinds of roads. Naturally, they’re my favorite. A lot of times, they have little enough traffic so are pleasant.

As I came around the northern end of the lake and started south down the east side of it, the road was a little bigger, though still not quite a ‘full’ two lane road. It was also busier.

The cars were no problem as I rolled along at about 7 mph on the flats, slower on hills of course. Motorcycles though, that was a different story. About a dozen of them roared by me on that eastern side of the lake. More than half of them passed too close. A few may have been worried about swinging too wide out and getting hit by an on-coming car when passing me from behind. Others, they were just hugging the inside of the curves as they raced along in the opposite. Seriously, at least 3 of them, I could have reached out and touched them as they passed. The road might have been narrow, but not THAT narrow. Passing cars gave me more room. As if motorcycles don’t make me grind my teeth enough at home.

They frequently use the street at the back of our apartment as a speed way. Nothing like being jolted out of sleep at 1 am by some jerk’s motorbike SCREAMING down the street and echoing from the buildings. During the days in warm weather, with windows open so we don’t suffocate, we spend a lot of time rewinding things we watch because of it.

Along that madness, I found a spot by some mailboxes to pull off the road. No power lines above and about a 5 square foot spot of flat, grass free ground where I could launch the drone. There was an open view down toward Film Lake, which honestly, looks more like a bog. It would appear Film Lake is making its way into the history books just as Salsta Lake did a couple hundred yeas ago.

Overlooking a bit of an old farm

I was pretty focused on readying the drone, so I didn’t hear the woman call out to me the first time. The second time, I looked around, baffled and there was a woman pushing up the hill on her bike. I didn’t immediately catch what she said because, well, people rarely ask me about my Da Brim so it’s not a Swedish word pattern I’m familiar with.

A bit of Film Lake and the expansive reed beds around it.

The situation wasn’t helped that she really didn’t want to stop and lose her momentum up the hill either. So, it was a quick pattern of yelling back and forth as I told her I’d ordered it on line and gave her name Da Brim.

I’d barely launched the drone and had it less than 100 feet away, when a guy on a road bike, heading up the hill had apparently swerved to my side of the road to yell in my ear as he passed. Naturally, I jumped with a yelp and he laughed. His riding companion shook his head and offered an apology for his friend’s crass behavior.

While I’m getting braver with the drone, I wasn’t brave enough to send it buzzing the mile or so across reed beds and silting waters to the church. Even if I hadn’t been getting ‘High Wind’ warnings from it, I wouldn’t send it that far off. Though while choosing photos for the post, I did realize one has the church in it. Just so small as to be unrecognizable until one zooms in to the point of blurriness.

Fresh shorn alpaca always look so weird.

It was a relief when I reached the northern edge of Österbybruk and was able to make the turn onto the eastward stage of the ride.

The first mile or so of that new, smaller road was through a residential area. Lots of houses, kids riding bikes on the streets. And then, suddenly, at the appearance of 3 alpaca in a pasture, of all things, I was back in the countryside.

The black one didn’t look so odd as the other two

These alpaca, unlike the last trio I’ve met in previous years, had pretty much no curiosity in me at all. Only one of them even looked up at me. Perhaps the other two were sulking about their obviously recent shearing?

When they’ve got their fluff, alpaca are adorable. When they’ve been close clipped, they turn awkward looking. All scrawny neck and legs with barrel shaped bodies and over sized heads. These were no exception. So, if they were sulking, I can’t say I blame them.

Gubbo Road was fairly pleasant. I do want to say the difference between the number of trees in street view and the lack of them in current time is alarming along the first few miles past the alpacas. It definitely would have been nicer with all the trees seen in street view and not only because of shade. Trees are just so much nicer than stumps, torn ground, and general destruction of clear cutting.

After a couple of miles, knowing there was a lake just to the south, I started looking for a spot to launch the drone. I knew the lake was there because I recalled it from when I was looking at the maps. Also, there were occasional glimpses of water across the ruin of clear cuts or between trees.

Riding near lakes at this time of year has a special irritation, especially on windy days. Seed fluffs. As I rode along, there where white puffs from what I think are cattails flying on the breeze. Add in sunscreen and a little sweat. At one point, I think my cheeks may have looked as fluffy as an unshorn alpaca. It was hard to get that mess off without smearing sunscreen on my hands.

Finally, I came upon a parking lot. I think it was mostly to serve for those who wanted to walk on the Uppland Trail that ran around the edge of the lake and off across the landscape. Still for putting up the drone, it served admirably. Plenty of flat. The ground around it had been clear cut so for 100 yards or so there were no tall trees which always make me nervous if they’re too close.

Stordammen Lake

Up went the drone and I snapped a few photos of Stordammen (The Big Pond) Lake. Odd it should be called ‘Big Pond’ when it’s larger than many bodies of water nearby that carry the name ‘Lake’.

Out of curiosity just now, I looked up if the difference between a lake and a pond is size alone. Actually, it turns out it’s not about size at all. It’s all about depth, or rather if sunlight can reach the bottom of all the way across or if there are spots too deep for sunlight and therefore, plants can’t grow. Learn something new every day. Still, I’ll hazard a guess that Film Lake’s designation as such no longer stands, but it keeps the name because of its past glory. And who’s to say that when lakes or ponds were named in the past that it was with sunlight in mind back in say the 1500’s?

Actually pretty good as gravel roads go!

Because of street view and my Garmin’s map, I knew the lovely paved lane with so little traffic was soon to become unpaved. Naturally, when it did happen, it wasn’t any surprise. Oddly, my Garmin drew the road as a dotted line, as it might do with a footpath. Confusing as I’ve seen it draw dirt roads with yellow filled lines.

I was braced for the worst as I neared it. Turned into a pleasant surprise. There was some gravel, but the surface under the scatter of pebbles was rock hard, flat packed dirt. If the surface held for the entire distance of the unpaved, it was going to be a nice ride.

There wasn’t much traffic on the road either. Entire blocks of 10-20 minutes or more could pass with not seeing another soul. Best of all, no motorcycles buzzing me at less than arms length. No motorcycles at all!

Old barn and to the right, barely visible in trees, another building.

A bit further on, I discovered there were a lot of abandoned buildings/farms on this road. That realization first came when I spotted an old abandoned barn down the road and stopped to take a photo from the distance. As I put the camera away, I noticed the edge of a roof line highlighted by the sun of another building in the trees.

Oh, look! A second, collapsed barn!
Closer view of collapsed barn

Naturally, it was time to launch the drone when I reached the barn.

There was a surprise once I had the drone up. A second barn at right angle to the first, visible one. The fact it had collapsed and with the way the land was shaped and tall grasses, I hadn’t been able to see it really. Except maybe a few pieces of wood. Certainly the extent of it surprised me. It had very likely been larger than the one still standing. Playing around with the photos, it appears when it collapsed, it had a vehicle of some kind in it as well as a trailer. Not very archaic either. I’m talking nuts, bolts, pneumatic tires kind of vehicle and trailer.

So close, yet so far.

I wasn’t quite bold enough to send the drone zooming around the tree tops to see if I could make out the roof of the building just barely visible in the trees. For that, I put the drone away and started walking across the wheat field on foot, following a line of plants crushed by tractor tires.

I kept hoping to find some remnant of a path to the building, especially seeing how old it looked with a stone foundation cellar. But no, it’s abandonment had been too long in the past and all such had been well over-grown. Adding to the frustration was a peek of more red faded wood to the left of another structure beyond the first one.

I could have pushed through the hip and chest high grass, but the thought of ticks made my skin crawl. So, I just paced around the fringes in frustration before giving up. Maybe if I remember I can go back during the winter when the weeds have shriveled, the trees dropped leaves and ticks are slumbering.

After that abandoned farm, it seemed old buildings were hiding behind every tree.

Okay, a slight exaggeration, but I spotted at least six. Who knows how many I didn’t spot. Clearly, this area had a time when it was more populated and more intensively farmed. Most of those ‘back in the trees’ buildings I didn’t get photos of because the resulting photos wouldn’t have been worth it. Trees and leaves with a hint of faded red paint on wood back in the shadows… if that. Fortunately, there were plenty of old, out-in-the-open farm buildings for me to point my camera at.

With the lake left behind and no other nearby, I no longer had the flying seed fluffs sticking to my face to contend with. It still wasn’t trouble free though. Seed fluffs were replaced with insects. Horseflies chief among them. By a miracle, I was only bit a few times. They never came in droves, mostly singles with the occasional team of 2 or 3. Most shocking though was they never came at my face or ears. That’s when I really freak out. An inch long biting fly going for my eyes will unhinge me.

One spot in the middle of the 8-10 miles of gravel travel made me wonder about the past nature of the road. In a spot with a cluster of houses and kept-up farm buildings was a stretch of paved road for 300-400 yards or so. Miles of dirt to either side.

Just past the mystery paved stretch
Pretty pasture.

Perhaps the gravel road had been paved at one time. That might explain why the dirt was so hard packed as to rival even pavement. It had been prepped to provide a solid foundation for an asphalt covering. It could very well have been when the population fell to the extent that the farm I’d found was abandoned, the government decided it wasn’t worth the cost to maintain pavement for so few people so they pulled it up.

Even as good as the base surface of the unpaved road was, it was nice when I reached paved surfaces again. I definitely was lacking the strength and staying power I inexplicably had on June 5th. So, when I no longer had rocks increasing the rolling resistance, it was a relief.

Slowly falling apart. So sad.

I still didn’t feel too bad though. I was tiring, yes, but not exhausted. My knee was uncomfortable, though never quite crossed the threshold into pain. Honestly, my feet hurt more. The temperature had edged up toward the low 80’s F, but amazingly, I wasn’t suffering from it like I used to.

5 years ago, anything over 75 F, especially under the summer sun would have had me shaking, on the verge of vomiting, feeling like my face was going to combust, and wanting to pass out. But lately, I recognize it’s warm and happily accept the cooling embrace of any shade or even wish for a bit of clouds, but I don’t need them. Not even sure it has slowed me down.

I think it would be prettier with clouds

Then I was done with going east and the road was all south, south, south. There were less trees and more fields so the wind buffeted me around some, but that helped take the edge off the sun. I slowed down a bit, having given up any hope of beating the 30+ mile recent record some time earlier in the ride.

I probably could have done it as long as I didn’t rush, but the idea of staying out on the trike for another 3 hours or so didn’t have much appeal. I was starting to feel the fact I’d only had only a few nuts. Maybe with an earlier start. Something more ‘meal like’ to break up the day would probably help too. Nuts and fruit can only take one so far.

I definitely was going to call it done when I reached Hökhuvuds Church.

Uppland’s Rune Carving #598

On a long glide down a gentle hill, relaxing and enjoying the cooling feel of the wind, when a sign leaped out at me. ‘Runsten’. I had to hit the brakes hard, looking for the distinctive shape. Then I realized, I’d seen it before though never on the trike. The runes weren’t carved on a stone. They were carved on a flattened bit of bedrock. The very earth itself was the runestone.

Red definitely was not a good color with which to highlight the runes on this carving. The paint kind of faded into the rusty hue of the rock face.

I can’t remember exactly when it was we first drove by Uppland’s rune carving #598. The sight of it definitely triggered a clear memory of driving along, turning back and me getting out to take photos of it. I even want to say my dad was with us, so that would be in 2008, probably when we were on our way into Dalarna on a sight seeing trip.

As I came closer to Hökhuvud, the road had gotten busier, so I was cautious pulling out from the stone and onto the road again.

From the runestone until I reached the end of the road where it met the busier 288. I remembered the area around Hökhuvuds Church being heavily trafficked. Enough so, that I often felt frustrated by my desire to ‘collect’ the church on a trike ride, but unwilling to risk my life for it kind of thing.

There appear to have been changes since the last time we drove by the church on our way to Sing Island. A bike lane was added to the side of the road. No physical separation from traffic, just a white painted line, but that’s more than what it used to be. I scurried across and made it safely to the church.

Hökhuvuds Church

I rolled to a stop at Hökhuvuds Church and… I was blissfully alone. Well, aside from the constant traffic on the street. But no one wandered the churchyard or the like. I called Jens to let him know where I was and got my rump in gear to get the drone up before anyone strayed along to ruin the plan.

It was actually a good spot for the drone. The trees close by were short as trees go and not very many of them. An open field flanked the church so plenty of room to maneuver.

I had a bit of fun flying around there. At first I was a bit nervous, sending the drone up higher to try and get a good angle over the top of the small trees that were blocking the view of the church when I first went up with it.

Oland’s River, not the Fyris, believe it or not.

Then there was a river of course, adding its own special accent to the scenery. Not the Fyris which was a surprise.

Once I was done flying the drone as far as I dared, I brought it down, packed it up, and proceeded to strip everything off the trike in readiness for Jens’ arrival.

It had been a pretty good day, especially since I finally got to fly at a church. The first since Järlåsa Church back in May. I’m also getting a bit bolder with it. But then I’ve been getting significantly more practice with it of late. The past 2 months, I’ve probably flown my drone more than all of last year. Dare I even say, more than I’ve used it in all the rest of the time I’ve had it? Not impossible honestly. Kinda sad to think about.

So, here I am about to hit ‘Publish’ on another long ride post at 6:40 pm, June 14th. Tomorrow, Monday, June 15th, the trike goes to the cycle shop. I think I mentioned in the post about my ride on May 31st, the right brake pad doesn’t have much grab left in it. Hardly enough to bring me to a prompt stop even if I’m not heading down any kind of a hill. So, need to get that fixed and get my gears tweaked again too.

So, here’s to coming rides. Not sure if I’ll go for a long ride next weekend as it’s the saddest day of the year – Midsummer. From then until December 20th or so, the days will be getting shorter. *mournful sigh* While Midsummer isn’t as bacchanalian as Valborg (pre-pandemic) is, there’s still quite a bit of drinking. I’d rather not end up as a greasy smear because one of the 1000’s of extra drunk people on the roads hits me.

Just… WOW!
June 8, 2020, 10:42 am
Filed under: Day Rides

After my ride on May 31st, I needed most of Monday, June 1st to recover. I’d been on paved roads for 99.5% of the ride which was a nice change from the previous gravel rides.

June 2nd through to the 4th, I kept planning to go for early rides on my local hamster tracks. Get out about 4 am, probably be back before the cycle paths got crammed with people who have no idea how to keep distance from others sort of thing.

Well, the weather kept nixing that idea. June. Frost. Not two words that typically go together. But the 2nd and 3rd were in the mid-30’s when I woke up and there was frost in the shadowy spots. I still have that aversion to go out into the cold during ‘warm’ months. Of course, then it warmed up to almost 65 during the rest of the day. That meant I didn’t want to ride because I didn’t want idiots blocking my way and coughing on me as I tried to squeeze past.

June 6th is Sweden’s ‘National Day’, and Adobe gave everyone Friday off to make a long weekend. I had no plans to go for a ‘out there’ ride, but with the forecast saying it was supposed to be in the 40’s about the time I wake up, I planned to do the early local ride.

Jens changed that. He was getting up at 7 am on June 5th to go swap tires on his parents car. Later, he was going to do their and our shopping. He was almost pushy about the idea that I go ride. Either he could drop me off somewhere within a half hour of our place, or I could do a ‘pick a direction and ride from home’ thing. To save my honey from more time in the car, I opted for ‘pick a direction’.

It was just before 8 am when Jens dropped me off at the garage. As I put everything on the trike, I pondered my choices. Any where toward the city center, of course, was out. So, I could go toward Gamla Uppsala and pick one of several choices from there. Or, I could head out on Old Börje Road which would also give me a multitude of options at different points.

Been a while since I’ve seen these gray sky lumps.

I felt more like heading west than out past Gamla Uppsala for some reason, so off on the first portion of the River Loop I went.

It was a glorious morning. By 9 am it was in the mid-50’s F. There was almost no wind and that early, the sun wasn’t very harsh. Also, the clouds were multi-level. Lower gray-ish puffs drifting above the trees with a higher, thin veil above them,which I hoped would keep the sun muted enough to not fry me.

And the colors! Last week’s ride had some summer shades of green and flowers. Just 5 days and there was very little of anything I would call ‘spring green’. It had all deepened into those darker, richer hues that announce summer’s arrival.

On Old Börje Road, I was surprised. Even right from the beginning on that steep hill up from the New Börje Road, I was stronger and faster. I’ve been needing my 40 tooth granny gear with the 22 front ring. I tackled it on 2 rings down from the 40. So, 3rd gear instead of 1st? I honestly can’t remember when I could do that.

Yes, the barn again, but the rock with flowers!

When I came down from the hill to the gentler road beyond, I was still strong and fast. As long as the grade was less than 3%, I was cruising along at 9 mph or faster.

I’ve been able to do that fast, but how long would it last?`It did feel different though. I felt good. Really, really good.

I’m not so accustomed to the trike feeling so much like flying when not rushing down a hill. I reveled in it like in the days of old.

I slowed down as I came up to the yellow house, trying to see if there was any improvements. I think one of the windows has been replaced. About 100 yards past the house, is a large old farm building I’ve always liked. I noticed it’s actually had a fresh coat of paint on the white trimmed windows and doors.

Annoyingly though, about the time I came up to the cross-road, Mother Nature was starting to clear her throat. I pulled over at the bus stop to make decisions. If I went left, I knew of a spot, tucked out of site from the road to answer the call of Nature. Right would take me out toward Ulva Mill. Straight, of course, would take me to Börje.

I decided against Ulva. Left would take me toward Läby and two choices. One to head back into Uppsala or I could ride out toward Vänge, which somewhat toward the area of the last 3 rides, just not out from Uppsala so far.

Börje Church – April 2010

I was drawn more toward Börje though. So, off I sped toward the first church I’d ever ridden the trike to.

Besides, I had the drone with me and wanted to toss it up there to see if I could get some good photos.

My pace continued to be amazing, right along with my strength and stamina. 6 miles and I was still feeling better than any first mile on my rides for the entire year.

It just boggled my mind. Once when I was complaining about how wrecked all my 2 years of hard work with 3-4 times a week at the gym, someone mentioned to me that, as long as it wasn’t silly long time before I started trying to build back up, it would go much faster than it had over those 2 years before the cold, busted rib, dying dog, and pandemic ruined my gym record.

Maybe that was true and my strength and speed on June 5th was from that. It was amazing.

I reached the church and rolled into the parking lot. But there was a problem. I got up and I really needed a bathroom. I was doing the ‘I Gotta Pee’ Boogie as I tried to focus on the church and what might be the best angles for drone shots. I gave up for the moment and dashed around in search of a restroom servicing the church, but no luck.

That required some thought. Was it wise to attempt a drone flight when distracted and twitching around with the ‘Gotta Pee’ dance? Given my fledgling skills at flying it and the number of trees around, not really.

Sheep and lambs!

I dropped back into the trike and pushed off as fast as I could, aiming for the outhouse at Old Farm. Pedalling the trike with a full bladder is uncomfortable, but it had to be done. The area near Börje church is all fields or houses tucked in the little woody patches with no real areas to get out of sight of the road.

I was glad I was faster and stronger, but that still felt like a LONG two miles.

I couldn’t fling myself from the trike or hustle across the lawn to the outhouse fast enough to suit me. Yet, when I opened the door, I had to pause. There on the floor was a dead yellowjacket.

Not good. I listened. Nothing. I eased in and spotted another dead one in the wash basin. Still no buzzing. I turned to latch the door and spotted a small nest, about the size of a pingpong ball in upper corner. I had to risk it though.

Old Farm from on-high!

Nature’s call answered, I went back to the trike and got the drone up.

I was thrilled to get photos of the little farm from above. Some didn’t come out too well, with a washed out sky and the buildings too dark. Maybe once I get better at flying, I’ll convince myself to take more time fiddling with the camera settings. At least the one overlooking the main buildings came out decent!

Then I sat down at the picnic tables to decide the next course of action. I flipped around on Google Maps with my phone.

Just loved this view of the pasture behind Old Farm

I was still on one of my country loops and would be for a few miles more no matter which way I took. On Old Farm side of the 272, a dirt road lead off to Jumkil Church which could be fun to get drone photos with. On the other side of the 272 I would have a choice of east or north west.

Jumkil would have to wait because if I headed toward the 272, there was the big hill with the bridge and sharp curve at the bottom running through a burial ground. I’ve wanted to get drone pictures of that since the day I bought the drone.

Once out of Old Farm, I rarely pedal once I tip over the crest of the ridge. Over half a mile of gliding and, if one doesn’t chicken out like I do, it’s possible to hit speeds in excess of 27 mph. I settle for about 20 mph.

My mind was already buzzing with glee at the thought of finally getting the drone over the burial ground. I was probably a bit too worked up about it by time I found a spot I could get the trike enough out of the road and I thought far enough from the blind spot of the hill.

I should have calmed down and taken the time to do better. Live and learn.
Trike and burial ground in background

When getting a new phone to replace my Galaxy Edge (whichever), I research for one with the supposed best visibility in sunlight. It was the Samsung folding phone which cost more than my high end desk top did when it was new. So, I went with 2nd best of Galaxy Note 10+. Though it’s brighter than most phones, it can still be hard to tell how good or bad photographs with the drone come out until I get home.

There is a DJI drone specific monitor which functions the same as phones do, but it extremely bright. Supposedly works awesome in the most intense sunlight. Of course, you pay out the nose for that puppy. Still, I think wistfully of such from time to time.

After the burial ground, I had intended to send the drone up at Åkerby Church. Didn’t happen. There was too much activity around the church. Some restoration (I hope) or renovation (I hope not) work going on.

By time I crossed the 272 and made to the next steep drop into a stream’s gully, I had decided where I was going and which way to get there. Ärentuna Church. Adjacent to that church’s parking outside it’s graveyard wall is a burial ground and remains of an ancient settlement. A few times I’ve wanted to fly my drone over that spot, as well as get a high shot of the church, for quite a while.

Before reaching the roundabout which would take me to Marsta and across the busy road, I had a silly little event that began with something near panic but ended with a ‘awwwwww’ of cuteness.

Too darn cute!!!

Rolling along a shady spot with some old buildings around and lovely birch trees, I spotted something in my peripheral vision that looked black and yellow, hovering to the side. My first thought was ‘Yellowjacket!!!’. I leaned away, but moved with me, only strangely. That’s when it hit me. It couldn’t be a yellow jacket because there was no buzz.

Stopping, I carefully removed my helmet to find it was something that looked like an inch worm, but yellow and black in color instead of green. It was dangling from my Da Brim by a silken thread like a spider. To get it off, I lightly brushed the tall grass by the trike to stick it in there.

As the grass rustled, there was a burst of black feathers and a bird awkwardly flapped off 3 yards before looking back at me with all the indignity a jackdaw fledgling could muster. Delightfully, he just sat there as I pulled out my camera and took his picture. He didn’t even flutter when I moved on.

Uppland’s Runestone #1089

The road between a spot on the map named Forkarby and the busy Gävle Highway was busier than I liked. Two full lanes and it felt as if it was a near constant stream of traffic. During that hectic stretch, there was a runestone. I pulled off into a driveway and scurried over the road to get a picture of it in spite of being convinced I’d probably collected it years ago.

Turns out, this might have been my first time seeing U#1089. No hint of it was to be found in my many years of photographs.

One drawback from these spontaneous kinds of rides is that I probably miss a lot. it’s rather hard to research all the archaeology in a 20+ mile radius of our apartment. Even if I do manage that a lot of what is close to the roads I ride isn’t visible. Ancient house foundations are often overgrown with trees if not robbed out completely. So, it starts to become something of a balancing act of trying to find what’s worth seeing and not wasting time hunting around for something that only remains in soil samples or historical records.

So glad it’s less than a quarter mile to the turn.

The Gävle Highway was busier than the road I’d just come off. That’s understandable though. It actually used to be the E4 before they constructed the current, 4 lane, American Interstate style highway that claimed the E4 title years ago. Seems weird, I can actually remember the time before that bigger road opened. The traffic through Uppsala was insane.

I made it across to the narrow shoulder. It didn’t stay narrow long, which was a blessing. There was a lot of traffic, but they gave me as much room as they when passing. Even with all that, the extra speed and strength discovered on this ride was so nice. It made that 0.25 mile of unpleasantness that much quicker.

Turning on the quieter country road, I felt quite upbeat as I pushed on at the brisk pace. By that time I’d done over 13 miles. The past 4 rides or so my knees have bothered me. The first of the 4 most recent, it was about mile 11. The second was about mile 12-ish give or take. The last one, I think there was some knee complaint at about mile 13 or 14.

Not this time. I felt strong and fresh and raring to race on.

Just before the turn to Ärentuna Church, there’s a burial ground. I thought about sending the drone up or looking around, but I’ve seen it before and just wanted to get to the church. It turns out, there’s more to that spot than meets the eye. A runestone or two as well as an old road and a bridge along with the usual mounds and sod covered stone settings. I guess I’ll have to go that way again at some point to chase the runestones down at the very least.


The last few hundred yards to the church, my upbeat enthusiasm was replaced with disappointment. The main burial ground by the parking which also contains the foundations of an old settlement, was once fenced in with wire and wood. You went through a to a sort of barricade that sheep and cattle couldn’t manage. Well, that was gone and replaced with electric wires. Where the ground had always been empty the 2-3 times I’d been there.

It was what was in that fenced area that bummed me. Horses. There was no way I’d be flying the drone anywhere around the church with those two there. Also, there were about a dozen people sitting at tree shaded picnic tables just beside the electric fence. That would have stopped my drone flight as well, so it was a double whammy.

My new friend.

I got up and went to look for a way in. But where the original animal barricade had been, just a few boards remained and there seemed to be no other way through the fence from that side. Just kept getting better, didn’t it?

As I stood frustrated, the horses curiously wandered over. The brown one came first, but not within reach, before it wandered over to the grass to graze. The black one though. He came right up where I stood at the boards which interrupted the electric wire. Much to my surprise, he reached over the slats and pressed his head against my torso.

Ärentuna Church

Frustration and disappointment evaporated as I melted at such sweetness. I’ve always been crazy about horses and this gorgeous boy amplified it with his bid for attention. I, of course, found a spot at the base of the jaw where it joins the neck and scratched. It was his turn to melt. Must have been 5 minutes before he went to go graze again.

Uppland’s Runestone #1014

Back on the trike, I rolled toward the bell tower. That’s when it hit me. A memory of being there with Loke and him sitting with the trike in front of the bell tower as I went to walk around the church. While I’ve been to the church on the trike alone, last year as a matter of fact, Loke was was still alive then. This was my first time with him gone.

That memory heavy in my mind, I took a moment to go into the bathroom for a sunscreen touch up.

Uppland’s Runestone #1015

As I work on this portion of the post, I’m just surprised at the fact that there are no photos or even a mention of this church and its runestones in the blog. I’m pretty sure I rode here last year solo on a long outing that came up through Storvreta and then over to this church, then off toward Skuttunge and maybe even all the way home. Just so weird. Did I really do a long ride to this place and not mention it? Given how sick I’d been of trying to make rides on my River Loop hamster track interesting, it’s hard to believe I’d miss such an opportunity for a real ride report.

The detested sunscreen applied, I went back out where a woman with a little dog was pulling a wagon full of big, green plastic watering cans. As we started a quick chat about how hot it was and the trike, it occurred to me that she didn’t look as if she was tending just a grave or two, but the other landscaping around the church. I took a chance. “Is the church closed?”

Photo of the best preserved murals in the porch, ruined by bad lighting.

“It’s open,” she answered. “We had some visitors, but they just left and I was about to close it. Would you like to go see the inside while I eat my lunch?”

She did not have to offer twice. I gushed about how thrilled I was to see inside as I wrestled my handlebar bag off the trike. She gave a happy laugh, saying she just loved to see people excited to go inside the church. I thanked her again, wished her a good lunch and rushed in while waving.

As I stepped into the porch, I was floored by the sheer number of murals. Then I was annoyed by the lighting. The source was from a kind of glassed in drop-pendant style. It was fairly dim, but worse, were the stark lines of shadows thrown across the walls from the metal framework holding the glass panes of the light fixture. I tried using the flash, but that just left the images blown out and unusable.

From the back looking forward

It’s a pity, because the images were interesting, some of them a little different than most I’ve come across. The best of the pictures in the porch I took that I share here was of the newborn Christ receiving the three wise men which is rather standard.

On another panel was an image of a type I’ve not seen before. Several figures sat at a table. Perhaps it was supposed to be the last supper, but only six clearly human were seated. Behind them lurked bestial figures, peering over their shoulders. Sins? Temptations? Demons?

Looking to the back

Above the table and its people and demons was what looked like a document, but the lettering was too faded to make out as it fit around a bestial figure. In one ‘hand’ it held a goblet, and in the other some kind of narrow, triangular object.

Baffled by the strange murals, I stepped into the church proper. My jaw dropped. Except around the inside of the window casements, there wasn’t a single square foot of wall that didn’t have some part of a painting on it, whether it was just ornamentation or scene from a Bible story, or something more sinister.

One of the ‘devouring’ beasts with demons in its maw

Once the surprise from the paintings passed, I noticed the little pipe organ practically at my shoulder. It might be that Ärentuna church is the smallest of the country churches I’ve ever been lucky enough to see inside. I thought Jumkil was small, but even it was still large enough to put its organ in a loft.

I took my time to look the murals over as I took photos. The imagery of demons an animalistic humanoids continued on the inside. Strangest were what I’ll call the ‘devouring beasts’, one of which seemed to be trying to swallow Christ, or a saint, while demons waited in its mouth.

There were demons with flails lurking about. In one corner where a vault started, a strange face looked out across the church. It was too faded to make out more than anguished or terrified eyes and a nose. Very strange. And you know, there was not a single angel that I could find. A skeletal figure in another corner. Beasts and demons, saints, other Biblical figures, sure. But not a so much as a wing tip of an angel.

Another pulpit with a sacristy entry.

I’ve seen other churches with paintings of figures that weren’t clearly human, but not to this extent. The one that comes to mind had a painting of a ship with human figures sailing up to a shore while horned and snouted figures in crude garments hailed them from land. But the Ärentuna murals seemed to have demons and beasts tucked in all over. I imagined the priests of the past for this church being the ‘fire-and-brimstone’ types.

I felt a bit bemused by the strangeness of the paintings as I left the church. I’ve been awed my the old murals in the churches, but this was more of a discombobulated feeling. They were still amazing and beautiful. I guess I felt the same way about looking at them as I do with Salvador Dali’s paintings.

I would have liked to thank the woman once more for letting me see inside the church, but she was no where to be found. I parked in a shady spot to decide where to amble off to next.

Thanks to getting inside Ärentuna church, I had my appetite whetted. Churches called. There wasn’t anything in the direction of Storvreta, except the possibility I could ride back home. That felt kinda boring. I could also cut back over to Bälinge. Again, felt boring. Both are places I’ve ridden around so much. I could also go to Björklinge. I’ve ridden there less, but still felt somewhat recent.

Honey suckle and invasive, renegade lupins that escaped eradication.

Then the name Tensta on Google Maps caught my eye. It’s a large country church and I remember the scenery being nice in the area. I’d been there perhaps twice in 14 years and it was probably 8 years or more since the last time. I remembered some of the roads between Ärentuna and Tensta were unpleasantly large though. Well, I could always try, particularly since the first busy road was only after 4 miles on nice, quiet country lane.

A smithy? Maybe?

There were memories, ghost-like, of Loke beside me over those 4 miles even though I believe I’ve only ever ridden it once. There was the spot when we saw a hare and Loke pulled the trike into speeds of more than 15 mph even after it stopped teasing us and disappeared in a ditch.

Further down, that place where a tree shaded pasture fence came up to the edge of the road and three 1 year old calves rushed over to say hello. One of them licked the top of Loke’s head, which he didn’t like, while the others shoved each other around to get petting from me. They even mooed forlornly after us as we moved on.

There were changes though. Like part of the pasture with the calves had been cleared of rocks and trees, ground flattened and ugly white blocks of modern, suburban like houses put up close enough anyone living in one could hear the neighbor’s TV. Ah, country life.

Of course, at Ärentuna, between my ride last year and this visit, they had taken down a bunch of the trees lining the gravel path leading to the church door too.

It turned out that the first mile on the busy road I remembered wasn’t actually on it. Pretty sure it wasn’t there when Loke and I came through years ago. For over a half mile, there was a dedicated and isolated cycle path beside it. When the path ended, there was a sort of little country road that splintered off and then rejoined further down for another half mile or so. The cycle path was all uphill, but it made up for it by letting me go ‘wheeee’ on the little side lane.

Then I was on the busy road I remembered. While there was no way I could match the 70 kph speed limit, it felt less of a hinderance since I was able to do 10-11 (17 kph) mph even with a gentle incline rather than 3 mph (5 kph). Over 18 miles and I still felt strong and raring to go. Not even the least little twinge from either knee.

Uppland’s Runestone #1043

Then I reached a spot where I had to scoot across the lanes to reach a dirt track. There was a runestone there by the road and I wasn’t sure if I’d collected it.

Good thing I did. No trace of U#1043 in my photos or blog.

You know. I wonder if the reason there’s no mention of my first visit to Ärentuna and this runestone in the blog with Loke, is because it was in 2008, the year before I started blogging. Would make sense. Doesn’t explain last year though.

Anyhoo, as I went to leave, I have a habit of back-pedalling the trike, or rolling it back a bit to get the pedals in good position to more easily get my right foot up. On this ride, for some inexplicable reason, the chain kept threatening to jump to the inside of my smallest front chainring. Well, it made good on its threat that time. I wound up sitting in the dust, getting my hands all black with grease to wrestle it back onto the ring.

Naturally, I had nothing to clean my hands with. I settled for rubbing them furiously in the dry dirt/dust of the ground to get the worst off before getting even more off by scrubbing hands on my tights. Good thing it was one of my older pair that is on the verge of retirement.

After that delight, when getting back on the trike, I pushed the trike forward to adjust the pedals and locked the back wheel to prevent it rolling backwards as I sat. Annoying. I also had to take great care not to back pedal during other times. It’s probably a very bad habit any way, but honestly, it’s necessary sometimes with my knees.

Go me!

Just before I pushed out into traffic again, I happened to look at my Garmin. Wouldn’t you know it? At some point along that busy road before the runestone, the ride had become my longest for the year by more than a mile. And I still had plenty in the tank.

As gravel roads go, this one’s pretty good. Better than on the last recent rides especially!

The passing cars were polite as I went back out on the road. Honestly, so were the trucks, but they were so big and, at speeds in the 70-90 kph range, they felt close no matter how much space they were able to give me.

After passing the access ramps for the E4, the amount of traffic eased considerably. Even so, it was with great relief when I turned the trike onto a gravel road.

At first, I was unhappy with the idea of gravel after rides on May 17th and May 22nd. I even looked at my maps to see how much more of the busy road I’d have to take.

1 mile. Hmm. While I was faster, I didn’t know if I wanted to deal with that much traffic for another mile. I took a closer look at the gravel surface and realized it was actually good. Gravel in the middle on on the sides, but between those strips, the surface was smooth and hard packed. Rattling minimum.

Some of the few dandelions still in bloom and more threatening clouds.

It turned out to be pleasant. I was passed only 3 times. Cars, once from each direction each. It was a bit harrowing when for some reason a huge semi appeared on that narrow dirt track. It had been close enough with cars, but when that big truck came by, there was no driveway or passing bay handy. I was half tilted in the ditch as he crept along. There was less than 1 foot between my handlebar bag and those big wheels. That was less than fun.

It hardly made a difference to my speed when I reached paved country lane again. Off in the distance across fields of deep summer green and a sky of puffy clouds, some with gray-about-to-rain bellies, Tensta Church was visible like a beacon.

My pace was still very good as I pushed on for the turn to Tensta. Even after more than 20 miles, it just blew my mind how great, strong, and fast I felt. Even when I was attempting the 5100 km in a year (100 km per year I’d have been alive), and had made it through the first month, I didn’t feel this awesome or quick. Truely, I couldn’t recall when riding felt so… effortless is the most suitable word I suppose.

Not a great photo. I wish I’d found a date for it.

As I crossed the old stone bridge, I pulled off on the other side to go take pictures of it. There’s an old farm holding there that also serves as a B&B, shop, and cafe. When there’s not a pandemic any way.

I love this spot. I’d stay here if it wasn’t so close to home.

The bridge which crosses a pretty little brook in a series of vaults. To one side is the grounds for the B&B and they’ve set it up as a lovely spot for guests. Charming wooden foot bridges crossing the burbling waters from bank to little islets in the middle of the water.

If I’d found a place like this on a trip Jens and I made, I’d be thrilled to bits. I do admit though, that I have found some pretty amazing places to stay on some of our trips. Like the one up at Nordkap. Cute little village of only 100 residents and our hosts were the most lovely people.

Tensta Kyrka – 2010

Memory ghosts of Loke were with me still as I rolled up to the church. It surprised me, how I teared up looking around, especially toward the bell tower.

Loke and I had arrived at the church and to the side, there’s a little open-air museum area with some old buildings. We were wandering around, so I could get photos. All of a sudden, there was a burst from a hedge and a hare stopped for a split second practically at our feet.

Before we could react, it did this weird leap into air and ran in 2 circles or so, sometimes as close as a yard from Loke’s jaws. Then it did that bizarre hop again, to do the same in the opposite direction.

Tensta-Upplands Rune Stone #1034

I remembered standing there, bemused and wondering how on earth hares survived if they did such silly stuff so close to dogs. As it bolted off toward a distant fence line at last, I looked down at Loke. He was just standing there, looking as befuddled as I, with a tilt to his head. After about 2 seconds, it occurred to him he should chase it and lunged.

I had to laugh. I guess that’s how hares survive in those situations. They just baffle potential predators.

Tensta – Upplands Runestone #1036

While the memory made me smile, it was still bittersweet. I have noticed though that as time goes and I visit the places with Loke memories, the sting of grief becomes less. Perhaps doing such rides in places like this is a good thing, beyond the exercise and miles and scenery.

Tensta – Upplands Runestone #1035

I stopped at the parking lot in front of the church with a frustrated sigh. In the churchyard, an elderly woman worked lovingly on neatening up several graves. I wasn’t comfortable buzzing around the church with the drone as she worked. It felt too disrespectful.

Not sure what this was originally used for.

Instead, I got up to see if the church was open. No luck there. The woman didn’t seem to be finishing up anytime soon. When another car rolled to a stop in the parking lot, I gave it up as a lost cause.

A few yards down from the parking lot, I did stop to get photos of the museum buildings. Not sure why I didn’t in the past, but then my motivations in previous years are often a bit baffling.

See The Way She’s Eyeing Loke?? – 2010

Just a few yards further on and prompted by a ‘Gravfält’ (Grave Field) sign, I tuned left onto a gravel road.

Loke memories where there too and knew exactly the grave field that I rolled toward. The ride I remembered but was doing in reverse was from September 2010 and I titled it ‘Dr. Dolittle Should Have Been There’. It was such a day full of random animal encounters.

One of those animal memories was arriving at Gödåkers Burial ground and finding a few cows in it with calves. I really wanted to go in and look at the stones, to get some better photos than could be had from the road. But the mamma cow with a shy, black bull-calf was not gonna let a white, wolf looking husky into the field with her baby. Every time I went to the barricade, she came over to block it. Several times, she lowered her horns at Loke in clear warning. It was both funny and frustrating.

As I pedalled down the graveled way, I wondered if there were going to be cows in the burial ground pasture again.

Nope! The pasture which contained the bulk of Gödåkers Burial Ground was empty. On the other side of the dirt lane, however were 5 half grown bull-calves.

I almost didn’t launch the drone with the 5 little bulls standing there, staring at me in the cute way curious young cows have. I didn’t want to panic them into injury. Then again, they hadn’t panicked over the sight of the trike, which often freaks out horses. Cattle don’t tend to be quite as spooky as horses.

After having been thwarted from flying the drone at both Ärentuna and Tensta Churches, I decided to risk it. I’d launch the drone a couple feet off the ground. If the cows spooked, I’d bring it down immediately.

I watched the cows as I hit the launch function which brings the drone to about 4 feet off the ground into a hover. The buzz made all 5 of the bulls startle a little. They stood for 2-3 seconds with their heads down, stock still in surprise. Then, as if synchronized, they abruptly relaxed and returned to normal standing postures, staring at me again. Didn’t so much as twitch an ear at the drone after that.

Drone’s view of Gödåkers Burial Ground. Several standing stones and burial circles.

The cows indifferent to the buzz of the giant hornet like device, I was almost cocky as I sent it off. There was the wire fence and just a few feet above that, a power line. I sent the drone zipping between fence and power line and then meandering off between some of the low trees before pushing it a bit higher up for pictures. The most daring I’ve been with the drone since ever.

I found it interesting that the name ‘Gödåker’ may derive from ‘Gudhiuaker’ which literally translates to ‘Field of the Goddess’. I wonder which goddess if that’s true. Freya? Gefion? Sif? Someone predating Norse pantheon?

Road through the burial ground. Standing stones to both sides and a few cairns on the right.

The bull calves hardly looked away from me the whole time. It was as if I was some unique puzzle they were pondering over. Even after I turned the trike around and sat down to look at Google Maps for my next destination, they only stood at the fence line and watched. I probably should have gotten a photo of them, but hindsight and all that.

Loke memories had pretty much chosen my next destination by then. I only wanted to check the distance. On that ride in September 2010, Jens had dropped Loke and I off at a nearby manor house called Salsta. From the grave field, it was almost 4 miles on the nose.

It beckoned, but I resisted.

I’d done about 24.5 miles by that point and still felt damn good. There was some weariness starting to make itself known, but it was quite minor and my legs and knees felt fine. I was gonna head for Salsta Manor.

Those 4 miles got a bit harder the further into them I got. About mile 26 one of my knees started to grumble some. Not enough for me to even consider stopping, but it did make me go with more care.

Not to mention when a random path through the trees caught my eye, I decided against it. It would have felt ridiculous to have fallen short of the manor house because riding on roots and pine needles wore me out or caused my knees hurt too much to continue.

I was very much looking forward to getting the drone up at the manor house.

The first sign I was getting close to Salsta was the sight of the big yellow stables in the distance as I crested the brow of a hill. It was welcome to see. It meant I was close to the manor, but also being at the top of a hill I could just glide down. Coming up on mile 28, something like exhaustion had finally caught up with me. My knees felt achy and I was close to running on fumes. It probably didn’t help that all I’d had to eat in about 8-9 hours was my morning smoothie and a few pieces of pecans.

The old stables that once had a library and smoking room

Tipping over the crown of the hill, I let gravity do the work until I reached the bottom where I stopped to take a quick photo of the stable. It’s quite impressive. The date over the doors in black iron numbers is 1931, but I seem to remember it predating that. It also used to be bigger, housing not only the manor’s horses, but a library and an oriental smoking room. I wonder if that means opium?

The same river as goes through Uppsala. Just much smaller.

The bridge going over the thin thread of water, that believe it or not, was the Fryis River. Yep. A sluggish movement of water not even big enough for me to turn around my kayak was the same as the one through the city of Uppsala, big enough for sizable tour boats.

I smiled a bit tearfully at the bridge. The last time I was there, Loke had gone completely bonkers when a mink (of all things) had scampered over the river on the bridge. I was so excited to see the mink, once Loke had calmed down I’d called Jens to babble about it.

My mind worked overtime on the final approach to Salsta castle down its long gravel lane. It wasn’t just the possibility of flying the drone I mulled. My Garmin was sitting at about 28.5 miles. That bugged me.

Salsta Slott – September 2010

Then I was distracted from those thoughts. There was a small residence near the parking lot for the castle, but also a road boom was down across the final approach. It was too low and no way for me to get the trike around it. I considered a few minutes just going for a walk to get closer to the castle for a quick up and down with the drone.

No, by that point, I was too tired to go stomping around carrying my handlebar bag and my drone case. It was annoying and I just wasn’t confident enough to send the drone up, perhaps irritating the people in the house so close, while flying over some very tall trees to get a good view of the manor on high.

Disappointed, I considered just stopping in the parking lot and calling Jens. That 28.5-ish miles on my Garmin taunted me though. “So, close to 30 miles,” a little voice whispered in my head. “You’re not as tired as you were on last ride of 19.8 miles. What’s another mile and a half? Ya know ya wanna.”

Durnit, that whisper was right. I thought maybe I’d just ride up and down the dirt lane a while to get the miles. Decided that would drive me insane in short order. So, I rode to the end of the drive, took a right and pushed slowly and uncomfortably up the hill. Almost immediately, there was another right turn and a sign forbidding motorized traffic. That was for me!

In 1600’s, all this was a lake. By 1850’s, the lake was gone

Not far down the turn, it turned into a downhill glide. It didn’t seem too steep though, so I let it go. Off to the right, was a strange sort of landscape I’m not sure I’ve seen in Sweden before. It was utterly flat except for these big dense clumps of bushes. They were the size of small houses at times.

I thought it likely that the open ground with the strange growth of bushes was perhaps the old lake bed where the Fyris River had widened. Salsta Manor had originally been built on a peninsula after all. Just a few centuries ago, the Fyris River was large enough to serve as a transportation route for boats carrying goods this far, and perhaps even up to its source in Österbybruk.

Once far enough that was I certain to be over 30 miles when back at the manor’s parking, I turned back and started the slow climb up the gentle hill. Even though it was after 4 pm, the sun had been gone for more than an hour, leaving me a bit chilled, I didn’t rush it. It would have been silly to break myself in the last 0.75 of a mile.

I watched the Garmin and the moment the counter hit 30.00 miles, I gave a cheer, stopped, and took a photo.

I was over the moon. While there was a time when a ride of less than 30 miles was hardly worth getting out for, it had been so long since I’d done so well. I truly couldn’t say when the last time was.

I had a huge, silly grin on my face as I rolled to a stop in the parking lot with 30.48 miles.

Leave it to my Garmin to deflate my joy somewhat. When I hit end ride and then save it, a screen popped up, ‘New Distance Record!’ and listed that my old distance record was 29 and some miles. Before I saw when that was, the screen was back to the usual home screen.

I’ve had the Garmin Edge 1000 for some 6 or more years. In all that time, I’d never done a ride over 30 miles?!

Once home and fed with my first real food in over 10 hours, I started scanning down the list of rides on Garmin Connect. I found the ride who’s record I broke. It was in 2015 when I went on a credit card tour on the Kattegatte Route in southern Sweden just a few months after the stroke.

It was dispiriting to see the sheer number of my rides that didn’t even break 10 miles. That holds true even in 2016 which finally my old ‘Best Distance in a Year’ record of about 1200 miles. Most of those 2016 rides were on my River Loop hamster track with some variations going into town for the produce market or the like.

Of course, I broke 30 miles on June 5th and while quite tired by the end of it, and needing most of June 6th to recover, it will hopefully mean I’ll be doing longer rides more often.

Here’s to covering miles!

An Easy Ride (Relatively)
June 2, 2020, 11:51 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

After the brutal ride of May 22nd (rocks. So. Many. Rocks), I wanted to get out for another ride for the last weekend of May that wasn’t quite so harsh. I’ve been saving my adventure rides for the weekends since Jens is freed from the computer after working all week. Working from home and still puts in 50 hours or more.

Saturday was laundry day, supposedly, but I was naughty and ate something I shouldn’t have. Wound up being so severely punished for it that I didn’t even get that done. Teach me to stay away from animal products.

I hoped I’d feel better on Sunday, May 31st and I did. So, I started to plan a ride.

For the past week, give or take, our frosty mornings have been behind us which is nice given it was almost June for pity sake. Of course, even with mornings in the mid-40’s, I’ve not been getting out and riding like I should during the week. I need to change that.

Sunday, May 31st morning was a nice one. It was, again, about 44 F maybe a bit warmer and the forecast indicated temps in the mid 60’s and sunny. I plopped down on the computer to decide where to ride.

I’m quite focused on the area I’d ridden the last 2 times (now 3). Just continuing to push westward from that first ride on May 17th which started on a lonely dirt road next to a runestone. At first I plotted a route that went from Järlåsa church, northward to the intersection at Östfora, only this time, where I went right before, I’d go left. As I explored the possibilities with my various maps (Google, OpenCycleMap, and the Swedish archaeology), a plan was formed. Maybe instead of starting at Järlåsa church again, I start somewhere near that intersection 5 miles north. That would mean I could have 5 miles extra of new ground to use my stamina on. Also, I wanted to ‘collect’ a burial ground on the edges of a town called Morgongåva (Morning Gift).

Järlåsa Church

When the dust cleared, I had a route that would total about 28 miles. It would have been closer to 19, but in a moment of unfettered ambition, I added a 9 mile loop around a lake in the area. I really wanted this ride to be the longest of the year and, since it seemed to be all paved, I was going for broke as it were. It wasn’t a perfect route by my standards, having quite a bit of out-n-backs. Almost 7 miles of it. Anyone who’s read enough of my posts will know how I feel about out-n-backs. But, I was gonna get a burial ground with hopefully a runestone or more and the miles.

While waiting for Jens to wake, I made sure the drone was charged and also plugged in my extra battery pack. He woke about the time I was making my breakfast smoothie, so I had to finish that and it never goes fast. If I try to gulp them, I feel queasy. We didn’t get on the road until after 9:30 am.

Jens was a bit nervous about the area I planned to start. It turns out it was very close to a drug rehab center that is fairly ‘prison’ like. He used the words, ‘Force people into treatment’. He didn’t want me starting within sight of the place.

We found a spot and as I started getting the trike ready, I was annoyed to discover that I’d left the battery pack at home. Jens asked if I had to cancel the ride and poo-pooed the idea. My phone was fully charged and if my Garmin went dead, I was sure I could manage. So, he left me to finish the final touches. I settled into the trike and turned on the Garmin. Immediately, it flashed “LOW BATTERY“. I stared blankly at that before it went dead. And no battery pack. Well, crap.

No Garmin. No Battery. No Problem (I hoped)

It would mean I’d have to do the ride with only my phone for navigation. Most of the way wouldn’t need it, I was sure, but it still made me nervous. Okay. So, phone mostly only for when I needed Google Maps to figure out turns, to call Jens, and fly the drone. I would keep my media posts and photos with it to a minimum.

I absolutely refused to let these little hiccups ruin the day which was shaping up to be nearly perfect from the look of it. The temp was in the mid 50’s with the air feeling just cool enough to be bracing and counter the strong punch of the intense sun. Not a single cloud in the sky. I had miles of lovely little country roads waiting for me.

Site of an old cottage apparently

And apparently more of those little black signs as I found on the May 17th ride awaited me as well.

A bit baffling as to why this was here really. Not like it was an inn or a factory. Just a little cottage where a man had a wife and 4 children. The man and woman passed and one of the widowed daughters moved in for a time, only to be forced to go live in a poor house with the cottage sold off. Nothing of the old cottage here now.

I found it so strange because it was so minor. Not a family of power and influence to fall on hard times. Just, average people living lives that most everyone else in the country lived, with a sad ending for some.

The next stop wasn’t very far either. Just a mile from where I started actually. It was a parking area for a swimming spot at the first lake was I passing near. Just gravel and some cars. Even a few campers where some people had parked and were sitting in lawn chairs and grilling an early lunch.

It was a good spot to re-calibrate the drone which hadn’t been done since it took its bad tumble when I did on May 22nd followed by the paint-mixer style rattling it endured on those rocky roads. So. Many. Rocks. *shakes it off*

I was a bit nervous as I went through the procedure. Not just from worry that the drone was permanently damaged, but also the controller kept giving these loud, piercing beeps that must have carried for miles. It hadn’t been doing that the last times I’ve flown it. There were no obvious alerts scrolling on my phone or the controller, just that intermittent scream. And people nearby of course.

Between the controller’s hollering and the buzz of the drone when it flies, I didn’t do more than launch it up off the ground to about head height and squint at it for 10 seconds or so. Rock steady. Whew.

With the lake nearby, I was eager to find a more isolated spot to get the drone up for a look at the lake. It didn’t appear it would be visible any other way. Too much distance from the road and with lots and lots of trees.

Speaking of trees, I was a tiny bit disappointed that significant portions of the scenery along the road weren’t as nice as I’d seen in Google Street View. Dratted clear cutting.

And finding a spot to launch proved more difficult that anticipated as well. Even in the areas of clear-cut where there were few to none trees, I couldn’t get the trike off the road thanks to ditches. The times when I was ‘lucky’ and had a track or some other spot I could get the trike safe, there was a power line above it offering the double hazard whammy of physical obstacle and electromagnetic interference.

You would have thought I’d learned. At least for a while.

About a mile after I’d fixed the drone, toward the end of the first lake, there was a dirt track running to either side of the road. Signs indicated it was the Uppland’s Trail no less. A network of trails that criss-crosses Uppland (think Swedish State). Another sign pointed to church(something) about 2.5 km away. Interesting. On the south side of the road, closer to the lake, there’d been a clear cut a while back, so not so much in the way of tall trees. Perfect.

Though, wouldn’t you know it, rocks. I didn’t need to go far though. Right?

So just 50 yards or so down from the road, I stopped to send the drone up.

I’m still quite nervous about flying the drone and this first flight of the day was no exception. It was not helped I had trouble keeping eyes on it thanks to the sun. I didn’t want to send it too high or send it off too far and definitely lacked the confidence to send it out over the lake itself. With those limitations, I thought the resulting photos were pretty much a flop. I didn’t even bother to share them on Facebook later in the evening.

Siggefora Lake from above

While perusing through photos for this post, two of the photos were well aligned that they could maybe stitch together in a bit of a panorama. So, I tried it and, I’ll be damned. It looks decent!

After buzzing around nervously and getting a few so-so photos, I brought the drone down. Curiosity tugged at me to continue on down the trail. it looked so cool and inviting and maybe it would come out along side the lake somewhere.

A bit down, there was parking lot and a sign. Not much information about the immediate area though. Just a general sort of blurb about the Uppland’s Trail with no mention of Church-whatever. Leaving the parking lot, I didn’t make it far. There was a road boom. Too low for me to go under. Too wide for me to get around. Saved from my own curiosity, I made the short climb back up the rocky path to the road.

At times, the sky just looks weird being this solid a blue. Looks even more odd in photos.

Except for a bit of nervousness about my phone having to bear the weight of multiple functions on this ride without a battery pack, I found I felt very good on the ride. The scenery was gorgeous though, of course, I still believe that a few clouds would have spruced up the scenery some. At times, I also missed knowing how fast I was going when I found spots that I could hit a good pace. Oh, and lets not forget ambient temperature and gradients on the climbs.

Something else that’s been surprising me on the last 3 rides, is my tolerance for heat. A while back ago, I could have gone riding on a day like May 31st, with its intense sun and moments where the air was still and I would have been suffering. Used to be that, under a hot sun when the air hit anything over 70 F, I felt like an egg in a microwave. It was as if the heat went straight to my bones, amplified and threatened to come bubbling back up until I was gonna spontaneously combust. Flushed hot face, couldn’t breathe, nausea. That sort of heat intolerance.

The nameless lake.

But lately, it’s like the sun feels intense, but never goes much past the surface. Kinda like a Baked Alaska. Outer meringue might be warm and crispy, but the inside is still chill. I might not be thrilled with the impact of the sun on my surface, but at least I don’t feel as if I’m gonna have a heatstroke the moment it hits me. Still not a big fan of warm.

With that, I was quite happy when I left the fields behind for a bit of shaded lane along the lake. At times, even as close as I was to the water, I couldn’t see much due to the density of trees and thickets. The lake isn’t named on the maps. It’s not much longer than Siggefora Lake, but narrower

Shade and oh, the colors!

Such a pretty little lake and, once again, I would have loved to get aerial photos of it with the drone. The problem with trike off the road, open space with no overhead power line persisted, so I had to content myself with shore shots.

It was such a relief that the ‘meat affliction’ from the day before had lifted. May 31st was too glorious a day to be wasted with curled up on the couch and watching TV while suffering. In truth, May 30th was about as nice, but there was that whole laundry thing and the fact I had some of Dylan’s excellent pork to celebrate the fact that accidentally throwing my phone had only cracked the very new screen cover I’d gotten for it.

I’d barely left the last glimpses of the mystery lake behind when I was given another treat. The trees and shade suddenly parted and in the full impact of the sun were horses. So many horses. Nearly as far as the eye could see, open ground covered with barns, pastures, and paddocks with what had to be more than 100 horses total. Dirt roads stretched off into to the distance of the valley dropping off to the left of the road, all flanked by fencing. Even up near the road were smaller paddocks with horses often kept in pairs.

While impressive for the sheer number of horses, it wasn’t very attractive otherwise, so I didn’t bother to take photos. Even with the gentle downhill slope of the road, I took it very slow, chattering and soothing every horse I came across that seemed on the verge of bolting.

They were beautiful. All shiny coats and healthy weight with bright gleaming eyes. Well cared for.

Thought this might have been the next turn. Gave me a pause.

Not having the Garmin with its handy maps made things a bit confusing at times. Once I left the paddocks and pastures behind, I started looking for the northward turn that would take me around the next lake. I actually winced when I saw it. There didn’t seem to be many rocks on it, just the grass strip, but I know that can change in a blink. I pulled out the phone for a Google Maps check.

Maybe apple. Maybe cherry. Undeniably beautiful.

Whew. Wasn’t the turn. That one was actually just shy of 2 miles away. I would have had to think long and hard about that northward lake loop if it had been. But it wasn’t, so onward!

So glad I got out on this day. Just – WOW
Couldn’t get enough of the scenery

This was an amazing time of the year. A mingled combination of things of spring and the stronger, bolder hues of summer. Mostly it was in the trees leaves as most of the spring time flowers have started to fade, except for dandelions. But there were fruit tree blossoms and the spring green of leaves which has that hint of of sunny yellow. Then there’d be trees with the richer green of deep woods with a splash of vibrant blue or purple of a summer bloom.

I did notice the bird vocalizations weren’t as frenetic as it is earlier in the spring. I still heard larks, but it wasn’t like the sky was full of them. There were other amusements to replace the throng of bird song. I was pedalling by a field which hadn’t really started to grow whatever crop may or may not have been planted in it.

Was getting rather whimsical with my pictures.
Not as close a squeeze as it looked.

As I rolled by the acres of dark earth, I heard a distinctive call prompting me to crane my head around in search of the sources. Lapwings. Odd medium sized birds that belong to the plover family. Black and white with a cute little crest at the top of their heads. Their wings are this weird rectangle shape and their flight rivals bats for its erratic nature.

I spotted them, right about the time one of them made a defensive attack. He/she came swooping right at my head and near enough I ducked. I couldn’t help it, I laughed. Part of me disliked I was distressing them so, but the sheer boldness of them delighted me. I hustled on, not wanting to upset them too long even as I scanned the dark dirt for pale, sandy colored puffs running over it which would have been their chicks.

The attacks kept up for a more than 100 yards. One, I think might have come close enough I heard the touch of feathers or the lightest scrape of a beak on my helmet. And then, they were content that they had driven off the attacker. At least they didn’t resort to pooping on me.

As I toodled leisurely over the countryside, savoring the scenery and pausing for photos every 2 minutes (so it felt), my mind was working. The thoughts it pondered were triggered by the sight of that grassy track I had first thought to be the one I needed for the northern lake loop.

A glimpse of the lake I didn’t loop

Really, the lake loop had been an after thought added for extra miles to pad the ride into the ‘longest of the year’. The big draw for the outing had been scenery which had paid off in spades and getting to the burial ground at Morgongåva. The loop was about 9 miles. I started to fret. What if in the middle of the loop, if it ended up being rocks most of the way, I had to call Jens for pick up because I was too tired? I REALLY wanted that burial ground.

The time I reached the turn for the lake loop, I’d talked myself out of it. Even so, it was good to see that it appeared paved, at least at the start, as I passed it. And who knew, maybe I’d still do it if I felt strong enough after leaving Morgongåva once I’d been to the burial mound. There was still quite a bit of ‘oomph’ in me after almost 10 miles. That decision left me quite a bit more relaxed.

It felt like quite a bit of climbing once I passed the lake loop turn. I refused to stress about how the inclines impacted my speed or might tax my strength in the long run.

Interesting the stables were named in English. And not to worry, I moved the trike after the picture.

As I came up to the turn for Morgongåva with a blip on the map tagged with the name of Molnebo, a cluster of interesting buildings caught my attention. I swerved off the road to explore a bit.

Hey! This building turned 100 years old last year!
Loved it!

The buildings were fascinating. Especially the ones that were of a type I’d rarely, if ever, had seen in Sweden. Some, obviously, were the typical timber style painted the Falu red with white trim at windows and doors. But then there was that huge yellow and white one built in 1919. A barn? Hay storage?

A cute bridge crossed the tiny rivulet of water and in one spot, it looked as if there were the footings of a previous bridge perhaps. One cluster of buildings incorporated ruined stone walls which I found extremely intriguing. Sitting so close to the running water, I wondered if it might have been an old mill.

The crumbling stone walls is the remains of an old watermill, I think.

And wouldn’t you know it? It was an old mill! Research didn’t find much except that the manor and surrounds had a new owner as of 2017. Oh, and an old ironworks on the site as well, complete with a big hammer forge as well as a blast furnace. It’s all gone though. A bit of the even older watermill survived, but nothing from the ironworks.

I felt a bit intrusive as I skulked around, trying to find the best angles of some of the buildings for photographs. On one hand, it looked open and inviting, but on the other it looked like a home and no sign of parking for visiting public.

As much of the manor house as I dared to get.

There were signs of horses all around, other than the obvious stables across the road from the drive that is. The little gravel drive up to the bridge was flanked by paddocks with scraps of hay, bits of manure, and hoof prints, though they were currently empty. As I tried to look confident in my explorations just over the bridge, I could see a huge pasture beyond the manor house and dozens of horses.

I had just taken the photo of the manor house, when someone came out of one of the outbuildings that looked to have been converted into a cottage. I didn’t exactly hustle my way back to the trike, not wanting to appear as if I felt I’d been trespassing, but I didn’t linger either.

Honestly, it’s hard to know at times if one is or isn’t trespassing in Sweden. I mean, clearly, if you’re tromping across someone’s small lawn and over the kid’s toys, you are. But on an estate like this? It feels a bit more ambiguous without ‘Privat’ signs.

Leaving Molnebo behind, I made the turn toward Morgongåva. I didn’t seem to have taken any photos on the 2 miles to the town. I guess there wasn’t much to see. Or maybe I was getting too excited about the burial ground to notice what I was passing.

Bike path on fringes of Morgongåva. Horribly unfair. Road with shade. Path with full sun.

As I came into the town though, I do recall that I was starting to feel the ride. It also felt like most of the winding way through it was all uphill. I had to use Google Maps a lot as I worked through the maze. It wasn’t just to get to the burial ground either. The lack of food had me feeling a bit peckish. All I’d had was my morning smoothie and a small handful of pecans after all. A restroom would also have been nice.

Most of such conveniences didn’t seem to be on the end of town with the burial ground, except one summer cafe supposedly right next to it. That, of course, was closed thanks to the pandemic.

Burial ground from ‘Younger Iron Age’ (450 AD to 1050 AD)

The final stretch to the burial ground was a hot one. The open ground around it meant there was some air moving though, which helped, but that sun. Amazes me how intense it can feel this far north.

Uppland Runestone #1174

Molnebo wasn’t even 3 miles away when I rolled to a stop at the burial ground. I’d felt pretty good and still raring to go there, but at the burial ground, I was in the first stages of exhausted.

There wasn’t any proper parking for visitors to the gravefield. Maybe they expect people to park at the cafe and then stroll over. A fair assumption, but it didn’t really help me. Fortunately, by the slap-dash foot bridge of boards and pallets, the ditch was bone dry and very shallow. I just pushed the trike down the gentle slope of the ditch’s side to park it under a birch tree, in the ditch.

Uppland Runestone #1175

Trike out of the way of passing cars, I made the short walk over the fallow field to the runestones for close up photos. Then I went back to the trike where I could use the trike’s seat to put stuff as I fiddled with getting the drone up.

It was rather breezy at ground level around the burial ground and even windier over about 15 meters. It made me cautious. More than usual I mean. Still, I got it up and took a few shots before packing everything up to move on.

Before I did, I sent Jens a text to let him know I was probably going to cut the ride a little shorter. I was feeling pretty rough. So thirsty and water didn’t seem to help. It occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t drink I was craving so much as calories. Instead of going back the twisty way I’d come through Morgongåva, I stuck to the little service road and rolled toward the part of the town that fronted on the 72.

Uppland Runestone #1173

I came up to the intersection at the ‘train station’ of the town and had to wait as a train came to a stop. As I waited for the booms to come back up, a shape caught my eye. At a glance, it looked like a runestone but just a little too ‘finished’. Curious, I went for a closer look.

I was right! The stone wasn’t an original runestone, but a copy. The original is in Princess Gardens, just below the castle in Edinburgh, Scotland.

A click on the photo will bring up more information on the story behind it.

By time I finished taking photos, the train had moved on and the booms had gone up. I scuttled across the tracks to the cycle path along side the 72. Right beside the single platform which is the entirety of Morgongåva’s train station, was ‘the candy shop’ and across the busy road, a pizza and bar.

My last experience with a pizza place’s attempt at vegan kinda put me off that. After my reaction to pork on Saturday, May 30th, I wasn’t going to risk anything with meat or cheese. So, I parked the trike outside the candy shop.

Actually, the shop was a strange combination of things. A surprisingly large shoe section. Some clothing. Oil, filters, wiper blades, and windshield fluid. Other than the obvious bunches of loose weight candy, there were chips and drinks all over the place. A spot in the back even sold flowers and gifts. You could also get some hot food like hotdogs and not sure what else as there was some cafe seating too. Oh, and a restroom. Jackpot!

I settled for a cold soda and a sort of frozen ice-cream (but not cream) thing from the cold case. It was like a pear sorbet onna stick. Truly awful actually. Pear is probably one of my least favorite fruits. Was the best I could figure for staying vegan.

I plopped down in the trike’s seat with my scrapings of calories and chugged half the soda down right away. While waiting for the carbonation to settle and burble into a workable equilibrium in the tummy, an old man started chatting with me about the trike.

There’s a bit of an alcoholic culture in Sweden. Some of the hardcore drinkers will gather in public places to drink the day away. I don’t think the candy store was a drinking spot so much as selling cigs and quick food. This man was one of those people caught in that culture by his addiction. I could smell it and he was a bit wobbly.

A glimpse of Ax Lake

The conversation at first was along the lines of, “That bike looks very comfortable! I bet you can take a nap in it! Or eat lunch! Or read a book.” Then his eyes really brightened, “Or drink!” He really seemed to love the idea of that. 3 wheels, not needing balance and a comfy place to sit while staying drunk.

Finishing my pear horror of a sorbet-cicle, I said farewell to him and rolled on.

I didn’t want to go back through the portions of Morgongåva I’d come through already. It’s a nice enough town, but kinda… I don’t know. It’s mostly just late 1900’s houses and apartment blocks with the occasional shop or other service or such tucked away. Winding back through it to hit the 1.5 mile road I’d come down to arrive in it just felt like too much trouble.

Hoping for a way to get from the cycle path along the 72 and back on that road, I scurried over to said path to hunt a patch shade. Once I found one, with a bit of a view of one of the two lakes at Morgongåva, I pulled out Google Maps.

I was right. There was a break in the protective curb of the cycle path for people to reach the road I wanted back on. There was still about a minute or so when I considered just pushing west on the cycle path which ran all the way to Heby from Morgongåva. Scenery is kinda ‘meh’ mostly because of the constant noise of traffic and sucking exhaust, but I was fairly tired and it was direct and quick, relatively speaking.

No. No. If it took me longer, so be it, but I’d come out for scenery and to have fun. Not endure a cycle path along a busy two lane highway. I pushed on to the break and hustled back across the 72 to head back to Molnebo.

The scenery was nice, heading back north, but it must have been mostly trees with nothing truly eye-catching since there were no photo stops either on the way down to or up from Morgongåva.

Another interesting building at Molnebo
Another view of some buildings at Molnebo

I reached Molnebo and would you believe it, I actually sat at the intersection for a minute or so, looking back to the east, considering doubling back the mile to the turn for the northern lake loop. I was tired and one of my knees was starting to hint that it would disapprove strongly later in the loop if I was silly enough to attempt it, but for a moment it was a possibility.

No. Better I head to Heby which was an hour or more at my pokey pace. Definitely more if I did any photo stops or drone flying.

I crept by a part of Molnebo as I pushed off toward Heby. In the distance there were a couple dozen or more horses wandering in the knee-high, lush grass of a huge pasture. By the road, in a paddock was a pair of horses apart from the others. One a lovely, almost black color and the other a typical brown of most horses. There was a bit of fretting for a few seconds and then, as if a switch flipped between their pointy ears, they were suddenly fearless and curiously standing at the fence to look at me.

Aren’t they lovely?

After chattering at the lovelies for a few moments and certain they weren’t gonna do anything silly that might get them hurt, I moved on.

I must have been quite tired on the way from my second visit at Molnebo to Heby. Almost 4 miles and I only took a couple of ‘down the road’ shots. Granted, the last 2 miles into Heby, I didn’t feel particularly comfortable stopping on a 2 lane road with a 90 kph speed limit and very little shoulder to speak of.

I get a bit ahead of myself though. At one point, before the bigger road which had 2 full lanes, I stopped to give my right knee a bit of a rest as it had started to complain. As I sat there, baking in the strong sun, I heard a mighty noise. The deep rumble of motorbikes. Not the Kawasaki crotchrocket types. I’m talking cruisers and choppers. Some were like the Goldwings. You know, those type of motorbikes that are like the Cadillacs of bikes and probably cost as much. One of those was even a delta trike style (1 front wheel, 2 back) that had a sidecar, all body work in deep burgundy.

But about 30-50 bikes came thundering by me. A good 5 minutes of motorcycle after motorcycle after motorcycle. Must have been a rally or the like going on somewhere.

All told, the number of motorcycles I’d seen over the course of the day was close to 100.

It was with a bit of trepidation that I came to the 2 lane, higher speed road for the final 2 miles into Heby. It didn’t look too bad as I paused at the junction to make sure no one was coming at 100 mph or something silly. I pushed out.

Actually, it was kinda fun. Most of the way was downhill. For something like 1.5 mile, I didn’t even pedal. Mostly because it would have done no good. The 15-17 mph glide was too fast for me to assist. It would have been just useless spinning and risking a leg-suck because I wouldn’t have had enough pressure on the pedals to prevent it. So, I braced my feet and just enjoyed the ‘wheeeeeeeeeeee’

Once in Heby proper, it was a little confusing to find my way to the church, even with the steeple above the trees to guide me. Lots of looking at Google Maps and orienting myself by the view of it over the leaves for me to finally get there.

Västerlovsta Church in Heby

I admit, I winced when I saw it. The building sat high up on a very steep hill, but that’s where I’d told Jens to pick me up. That climb to the front of the church had to be more than an 18% grade. There was no spinning up that sucker. I would have needed a much, MUCH lower gearing to be anywhere near spinning.

Once up on high, it was a bit anticlimactic. Trees blocked most of the view of the church. Just as well, since it looked as if it would have been rather boring thanks to all the renovations that hide any trace of its possible medieval origins under a bland skin 1800’s design. Always feels such a shame to me when I’m faced with that. History pretty much erased from view.

Up on the hill, there wasn’t much room for parking either. Just a couple of handicapped spaces and I felt guilty at the idea of using them to load up. At the bottom of the hill, which I’d ignored in my determination to ‘get to the church’, I saw a good sized parking lot by a small school. Perfect.

If you look VERY closely, you’ll see the only cloud I saw all day.

I texted Jens about the change in plans and tried not to go flying into the street coming down that hideous slope. Having very little friction in my right brake didn’t exactly help. Fortunately, my left one still had plenty of grab.

It was a bit of a wait. Soon, I’m gonna need to take the car and do loops without Jens dropping me off or the poor man will be spending the entire day in the car every time I go for a ride away from the hamster tracks. He’s encouraged this way of doing things for now, helping me build up strength and confidence for bigger and bolder things. Things, by the way which were derailed by the pandemic and a cracked rib keeping me close to home and, worse, out of the gym. I had plans for tours later in the year after Loke’s passing.

Oh, I haven’t forgotten how my 2 years of consistent gym attendance has been ruined. It’s just hard to try and make up for it at home lacking the rowing and weight machines.

Jens finally found me. Once everything was loaded and I flopped gratefully into a seat requiring no pedalling, I was shocked to see what time it was. After 5 pm.

No wonder I was so hungry! And no, I didn’t even pretend that I was going to do my intermittent fasting. I got home and had 2 small, doubled baked potatoes. Vegan of course.